I am between novels at present, so having just been on holiday, I was be able to do so without the complications and character arcs of act two rumbling in the back of my mind.
Breaking away from in-depth writing is always difficult, and conventional wisdom dictates that a clean break is best, ie between novels, as outlined above. However, given that this isn’t always possible, how best to proceed? Finish the chapter or section one is writing?
Surprisingly, I would advise the exact opposite. I always leave each writing session in the middle of a section I am enjoying or finding easy to write – for example, in the middle of a conversation, or amid a crucial dramatic moment. It sounds like madness, but the truth is upon re-reading I find I immediately get excited about what I am writing, remember why I decided to write it, and throw myself into it afresh with renewed enthusiasm.
By contrast, I find finishing a chapter or key section of the drama makes it harder for me to get back into it next time I sit down to write. If I reach the end of a chapter, I always write a chunk of the next before stopping, just to break the ice, so to speak. Chapter beginnings are always psychologically difficult, and it helps to at least have those first few paragraphs.
The psychological challenge of actually beginning a novel is even more intense, but that’s a subject for another post.